The area of Alta Verapaz (high Verapaz) is a cool, humid mountain area of northern Guatemala. Only Petén is further to the north, and Alta Verapaz has a long border to México. Capital of the state is Cobán, which is 1,300 m asl. The average temperature of 21$deg;C and annual rainfall of 3.5 m is the reason for the green and lush vegetation. The climate is ideal for coffee, there are huge coffee fincas. Several cloud forests allow tourists to observe the famous flying serpent, the Quetzal. The main tourist activities are trekking, caving and white water rafting.
The local Q'eqchi Indians preserved their language and customs to a remarkable degree. The dominant language of the Alta Verapaz remains Q'eqchi, andPocomchí, not Spanish. The reason is Juan Matalbatz, the provident chieftain of the Q'eqchi Indians, who voluntarily converted to Christianity and allied with the Dominican priests.